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Since I’ve been – so to speak – marooned in Oxford – I’ve taken a keen interest in the proceedings. I mean, it’s so cultural unless you get stuck in Marston, Blackbird Leys or other rather poor and deprived spots, like Gibbs Crescent in the world famous City of Screaming Squires.
As all the few readers of Volesoft.com know, I am a lover of music, or maybe
music loves me. I love words, or maybe words love me. So I was interested to get a missive from the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra – I’ve seen some lovely bands there in posh surroundings with some famous names on it (pictured). Long may the music play! I hope the Orchestra doesn’t mind me publicising it on this bog! It’s a marvellous orchestra with some wonderful and famous names. Some even have to have the same surname, like the amusingly named Sir Victor Blank. Go see them play! ♦
The Said Business School (SBS) held consultations last Friday and Saturday on its future plans to redevelop the Old Power Station in Oxford to transform it into a conference centre and plush accommodation for executives and MBAs.
Unfortunately, Friday and Saturday here in Oxford were affected by snow and bitterly cold weather.
We asked about the consultation and a representative from the SBS said: “Given the difficulty caused by the weather we are planning to offer an additional date for people to view the boards and have the opportunity to feedback on proposals. The exact date has to be confirmed but we will give notice to the community. Let me come back to you in the next couple of days with details.”
In the meantime, details of the plans can be found here. Those plans include detailed views of the proposals, including plans to mitigate disruption to the local community on both sides of the river. ♣
A missive from the egregious Said Business School (SBS)is holding a “consultation” on the future of the Old Power Station, on the Thames, just a slingshot away from Mill Street.
The message, in a bottle, is reproduced below.
But there are things the SBS doesn’t say, as well as things it does say, with implications for the original inhabitants of Old Osney Island, that’s us folk on Arthur Street, Mill Street and the rest.
The towering edifice was used in times of yore to test Concorde engines and then to host exhibits from the Ruskin. Then there was a health scare because it seemed to hold rare chemicals and stuff stored away.
The SBS didn’t really respond to FOI requests, I think you’ll find.
Anyway, the document issued for the consultation, below, said SBS is pushing ahead with a proposal offering “bespoke conferencing facilities. It doesn’t say what the impact on the area will be, how many bricks will go, and how the poor people on Arthur Street will feel about huge lorries making a right turn from there past Kite 2.0, also known as the Porterhouse now and the effect it will have on both Mill Street and the Botley Road.
Hey, I guess we residents will have the chance to forewarn the planners ahead of the “conference”. It’s all about the regeneration of West Oxford, you know. ♥
Residents of Mill Street had a missive from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) in early February headed “improvements at Frideswide Square” and penned by Owen Jenkins, the grandly named director for infrastructure delivery.
You can find the details of the seven week scheme to repair Frideswide Square at this link, – although you won’t find the letter, I don’t think.
West Oxford is being “regenerated” and some people might think that’s a good thing – certainly house prices here in Mill Street continue to go through the roof.
Owen said, in his billet doux, that cyclists will “benefit” from “new dropped kerbs” while OCC is is providing “tactile paving” for “visually impaired users” at all crossing points.
Now, here’s the thing. Pedestrians and motorists don’t really know whether people or cars have any right of way, so people don’t know whether these “crossing points” are safe.
Owen is, no doubt, too young to remember this, but in the 1930s Hore Belisha (pictured, above) had a bright idea to put lights and stripes on roads – “zebra crossings” – and introduced the driving test. The “crossing points” at Frideswide Square don’t have any stripes so we are all taking a bit of a risk, or maybe “dicing with death”.
Why does that matter? Well, because the square is close to the railway station and also funnels a considerable amount of motor traffic into Oxford using the already congested Botley Road, motorists and pedestrians unfamiliar with the weirdness have every chance of being confused by what’s going on. Even us local residents are confuseniks.
The scheme starts on the 11th of February and finishes on the 23rd of March 2018, if we’re lucky. ♦
On the 14th of February this year, at 4:45 PM, a huge explosion hit West Oxford.
I was in the wazzeria at the time, but the explosion was so great my windows bowed and I almost evacuated myself. I didn’t. I finished my wee and checked things out.
It seems some crazy greezer had blown up a house in Gibbs Crescent. He killed himself with the explosion – luckily no one else – and we’re waiting for the inquest to give us some rhyme or reason. And have been waiting for some time now. For the inquest.
I have some friends down in Gibbs Crescent, so have been following this closely. Susanna Pressel and Colin Cook, the local Labour councillors, have involved themselves and got their faces in the Oxford Mail.
But, although I am by nature an anarcho-syndicalist – read trade unionist and NUJ member for that, I thought I’d drop a line to our newly elected LibDem MP – that Layla Moran – who seems to have pursued this story in an exemplary way. I draw your attention, for example, to the almost complete lack of social housing she highlights, and to the big big question.
When A2Dominion “rehouses” the Gibb Crescent residents, where are they going to go? ♥
Ms Moran wrote to me on Friday:
“Further to our previous correspondence, and particularly focusing on Gibbs Crescent, I have now received responses from Dawn Wightman, Director of Housing for A2Dominion, and Patsy Dell, Head of Planning Services at Oxford City Council.
“Ms Wightman confirms that any plans to redevelop Gibbs Crescent would include 50% affordable housing, consisting mostly of 1 and 2 bed apartments with some 3 bed properties. She has not indicated what proportion of these affordable properties would have social rents. The properties are described as being significantly larger than those currently at Gibbs Crescent, but A2Dominion do not confirm how many of the new homes would be 1 bed.
“A2Dominion have also outlined a number of the benefits that they feel the redevelopment of Gibbs Crescent could bring, though have not indicated what assurances they intend to provide existing tenants.
“Ms Dell confirms that Oxford City Council has not yet had any detailed preapplication discussions with A2Dominion regarding proposals to redevelop Gibbs Crescent. I understand that officers at the Council held a meeting with A2Dominion, in which they discussed the need for public consultation on any proposals, but that by early December the Council had not had any follow up to this meeting.
“One of the issues Gibbs Crescent residents have raised with me is the serious shortage of social housing available in Oxford. In light of this, I asked Ms Dell to confirm how many social properties are currently available for let. She has replied that out of 7746 Oxford City Council properties and 3753 housing association properties, there are only 14 currently advertised as being available to let, with 2858 households currently on the housing register.
“I share the concern expressed by many Gibbs Crescent residents that these proposals would reduce the stock of social housing available in Oxford, rather than increasing it as is needed, and appreciate the impact that redeveloping Gibbs Crescent could have on existing tenants, including those who have lived there for many years.
“I hope that this information is useful. I will continue to pursue these issues with the Council and A2Dominion, and will share any updates I receive with you.
Layla Moran MP
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and AbingdonLayla Moran
Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon
It’s a long since I’ve been to West Wycombe, it’s not very far by road, I understand, but the Oxford Tube only seems to serve the plainly weird Lewknor Turn.
You can see Sir Francis Dashwood’s stuff easily and clearly from the train to Marylebone, though but.
When it’s not snowing and everything is “running”, however.
So I was very pleased last week to receive from Eamonn Loughran his beautifully produced and very finely colour illustrated Secret Symbols of the Hell Fire Club.
Eamonn is not only a producer of many very high quality books, which he bookbinds too, but has produced several rare editions of hard to get books – I’ve seen a few. It is obviously a labour of love – but it’s certainly a labour.
I like loads of things about Eammon’s work, apart from his painstaking attention to detail.
This particular work examines very closely the symbolism of Francis Dashwood’s caves, “cabals” et al. There’s lots to say, and Eamonn says lots.
Chapter One deals of a mister called Maxwell Ashby Armfield, who, with his missus lived in West Wycombe for a while.
The whole world+dog knows about the motto of the Hellfire Club – I can’t translate it because I have neither ancient French nor modern English – but seems to go along the lines of the Sanskrit “svecchachara”, meaning be true to your own path.
Eamonn has produced many wonderful books from the past and for the future too. This is not an uncritical review of this particular book, yet, but as I used to be a letterpress printer myself, I’d encourage you to check out his website, Hell Fire CLUB. ∑
LAST week, I was invited by three top boffins to the John Radcliffe hospital to discuss the rather new syndrome, transient epileptic amnesia – TEA for short. I’ve turned into a case study!
Professor Butler couldn’t remember he’d met me before, it’s fair to say, although professor Arjun Sen said: “Oh nice to see you again.”
Professor Sen said: “Are you still drinking?” I said yes. He asked: “About the same amount?” I said yes.
Arjunaji indicated that was OK. And didn’t mention smoking fags this time around.
But Arjun did ask me how much I remembered about 2016. I told him: “About 20 percent.” He looked shocked. Of course I remember the death of Tony Dennis.
Met another top prof at the John Radcliffe, a man who specialises in occupational stuff. Apparently I was writing perfectly cogent IT stories for the whole weird period. He said: “OK, that’s a different part of the brain.”
Professor Butler is a very cool guy. He asked if I dreamed. Well I do, in full colour, panaroma view. He reckons I’ll have to take the anti-convulsant lamotrogine drug for the rest of my life. But, he added, rather wittily: “The condition is so new we haven’t had a patient die us on yet.”
I HAD a couple of communications this week from people I still know about a controversial London geezer.
The first was from a woman who seems to have something of the investigative journalist about her. You can find that here.
The second bit I also saw this week, and from a woman, was actually published 10 years ago but I’ve only just seen it, and you can find that here.
Both pieces are about some old geezer who used to live in a little town called Mehmadabad, not far from Ahmedabad. According to the old geezer, when I visited in 1978, Mehmadabad was ruled by a younger brother of Ahmed. But what I would I know about that? It was a dusty little town when I visited it all those years ago, even though Mr Lawrence Amos Miles tried to convince me that when the Muslims conquered Gujarat, it was full of gardens and fountains. ♦